Money & Power

Thai Billionaire Philanthropist and Soccer Team Owner Confirmed Dead in Helicopter Crash

Here's everything you need to know about Thailand's fifth richest man, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.
IMAGE Billpolo / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS; Pottercomuneo/ WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
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  • A total of five perished in the tragic helicopter crash.
  • The crash happened just right outside King Power Stadium in Leicester, England.
  • Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha was a Thai billionaire and businessman who was best known for owning the Leicester City Football Club.

News reports have confirmed today that Thai billionaire and businessman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha was among those who perished in a helicopter crash on October 27.

The AgustaWestland AW169 helicopter, owned by Srivaddhanaprabha, crashed almost immediately after take-off from King Power Stadium following Leicester’s game against West Ham. A total of five people perished in the tragic accident, including two of Srivaddahanaprabha’s staffers Nursara Suknamai and Kaveporn Punpare and pilots Eric Swaffer and Izabela Lechowicz.

He founded a duty-free business empire.

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The self-made billionaire founded King Power Duty Free in 1989. As the founder and CEO of King Power Duty Free, Srivaddhanaprabha was ranked by Forbes as the fifth richest man in Thailand with an estimated net worth of $4.9 billion. Today, the royal-warranted King Power is the largest duty-free retailer in Thailand.

He’s best known for being Leicester City’s chairman.

“I always believed in the power of our spirit,” he wrote in 2016. “It drove us to reach the Premier League, it gave us the strength to stay in the Premier League, and now it has inspired us to win the Premier League. It is a spirit that has spread beyond Leicester, taking our story to the hearts of the world. Our spirit exists because of the love we share for each other and the energy it helps to create, both on and off the pitch, and in the years to come, it will continue to be our greatest asset.”

He has been praised for his extensive charity work.

Aside from engaging in business and his interests in football, the Thai billionaire was actively involved in charity projects. Most recently, he donated £2 million to help build a children’s hospital in Leicester. Football fans also fondly remember him for providing free beer and doughnuts for Leicester supporters.

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Sports fans are mourning his passing.

“In Khun Vichai, the world has lost a great man,” Leicester said in a statement. “A man of kindness, of generosity and a man whose life was defined by the love he devoted to his family and those he so successfully led.” Mourners have also taken the chance to honor Srivaddhanaprabha by placing tributes in the form of flowers and jerseys in front of King Power Stadium.

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Paolo Chua
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